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D. Medvedeva

Travelling around Ukraine

Chernigov and its shrines

I have already been to a number of seaside Ukrainian townships. But now I would like to visit the inland to see the sights and get acquainted with local customs as it is usually reflected better in the center.

The outing on January, 3-rd gave me an insight into the Orthodox shrines in the Ukrainian town Chernigov. The major aim for that day was to visit the churches and cloisters. The Yeletzki monastery is one of the oldest here. It was founded in 1058. The Assumption Cathedral is the major on this territory. It was erected in the 17-th centenary in stone. Later on a bell tower was added to the ensemble.

When Ekaterina came to power, she banned the money from going directly to the monasteries. So, the main flow was set to the coffer at first, which was supposed to finance the Church. At the same time she clamped down on cloisters in view of the fact that they were not always worth being backed up according to her standpoint. As a result the major part of cloisters was divided into 3 kinds and only 1000 from 4500 were maintained. The rest of them decayed.

Chernigovski Trinity Convent did not exist at that time. It was constructed later having evolved from the divine college and the house of the archimandrite continuing their existence within the precincts of the shrine. Its bell tower serves as a landmark in the town. First it was decided to make 8 floors but the funding was not enough. Therefore, there was no alternative, but to fix on 7 floors. On the last one a great overview of the town is accessible. From the bird's eye perspective I saw majorly two-storied buildings predominating here over high-rises.

The main cathedral of the convent was erected in 1712 in the Ukrainian baroque style, which was at its prosperity stage in those times.

Our next destination is the Antoniy's caves. Along with his companion Isyaslav, Antoniy decided to flee to Chernigov. He spent 70 years underground in his prayers. Apart from that he is believed to have had a healing power and owing to that he helped recuperate to hundreds of believers. The caves were dug out in XII-XIII centenaries and used as an underground monastery till the XVI century. Monks lived and worked here without the communication with the outside world. When they died, their bones were put into a special wardrobe. The skulls were left for ashes extraction.

Another monk living in the caves was Nickola Svyatosha. He was proposed to become the prince of Chernigov but conceded the power to his brother and became a monk.

In the lowest storey only hermits lived. They led an ascetic way of life and prayed in a complete desolation.

Later on the caves served as a church for worshiping and consisted of two floors. On the second one the choir was placed intended for singing.

The next temple we met on our way is dedicated to Ekaterina the Second. It was erected in 1698 to honour the victory in the war for the Sea of Azov. Its meaning was crucial for the Russian Empire, as it opened the way to this strategic post.

Since that the Cathedral has undergone a lot but survived. One of its most difficult periods fell on the year 2006. The authorities decided to pass the shrine to the dissenters secretly. In response the brotherhood of the temple put up a tent as a sign of revolt. At that period several attempts have been undertaken to burn them down to the ground or blow up. However, the brotherhood is living in the tent and continuing the struggle for their cathedral.

I should say I was even more impressed by the museum in the Borisoglebski church. Here you can see different artefacts from the history. One of them is the tsar gates. At first they were an idol in Peru. The thing is that many tribes used to apply precious metals for idol construction. In 1702 they were transported to Germany and turned into these wonderful gates. Due to their beauty they were called "tsar gates". It is a real masterpiece, which is surely worth seeing.

Another interesting thing is the patterns on the floor. It has never been replaced since the construction of the Cathedral several centuries ago. It was produced majorly from the slate (70%) which has been extracted from the city of Uglich in the Zhitomirski Region. The walls of the church used to be beautifully painted and decorated with frescos. But unfortunately this marvel has not been preserved till our days because of the fire, which descended on the church in 1941.

Women's decorations are also unique in view of their antecedence. These are rings, earrings, laces. At the same time it should be mentioned that in the Middle Ages Women were not allowed to have odd punctures, which considerably restricted the number of jewelry they could wear. But over the course of the time this tradition was reconstructed again.

Moreover, behind the showcase different kinds of weapon are presented. The fact is that people did not use to not grow higher than 1. 6 meters. So, the weapon had to be produced complying with it. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to fight with an oversized item.

But the major aim for that day was to visit the churches and cloisters of Chernigov. The Yeletzki monastery is one of the oldest here. It was founded in 1058. The Assumption Cathedral is the major on this territory. It was erected in the 17-th centenary in stone. Later on a bell tower was added to the ensemble.

To conclude, the town appealed to me due to its simplicity on the one hand and beauty of the architecture on the other.

Kiev: the visit to the Patriotic war museum

The 4-th of January was spent walking around Kiev. The first place of our visit was dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin cloister. It was founded by Matrona Yegorova in 1877 and began its history as a convent; later on it was turned into a monastery, which was typical of the shrines on the territory of Ukraine after the Great Patriotic war (1941-1945).

In the meantime, we stayed over in the Golosejevskaya hermitage, which was founded by Peter Mogila in the XVII century. He was the first to build a church here in the name of his patron - Ioann Sochavski. Therefore, Peter the Baptizer laid the foundation for the cloister not even foreseeing that somebody had already settled here. In the XVIII centennial the territory of the shrine appealed to Ampfiteatrov due to its woody surroundings and he decided to buy it. As the bolsheviki came to power, all the wealth kept here was plundered, churches were closed. But in 1993 the monastery was brought back to life. Within the precincts of it there are also cells where craftsmen working with the wood live.

On this day we visited a great number of places, but mostly connected with the Orthodoxy. When we were given a little free time, I managed to explore the Patriotic War museum.

In the introductory hall I saw a sculpture presenting the dead eagle (the Soviet coat of arms) strangled by the Nazis, as the corresponding sign indicates.

The exposition of the first hall includes eighty documents, letters and posters belonging to the war period. One of the posters shows a Soviet soldier burdening Hitler with weights symbolizing the past events marked by the corresponding year. It is some kind of caricature image depicting the superiority of the Soviet Army over Nazis. To be honest, it appealed to me much more rather than figure that underappreciates the dignity of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, it shows what could have happened to our motherland be it not self-sacrificing streaks of the soldiers. According to my supposition, it can serve as a contradiction to the figure with a symbolic death of the Russian bird.

The second hall prolonging the exposition shows German equipment - several cannons and a motorcycle. Apart from that here you can see a copy of so called Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty of non-aggression signed between Germany and the Soviet Union (1939, August). Strained situation at that time between these two countries is illustrated here. Moreover, a map of Europe from the standpoint of Hitler can be examined. Ukraine did not feature as a separate country on it. A great number of rewarding orders, which used to belong to warriors are also to be beheld.

The next hall introduces us to another scene of the war. On the left a row of weapons is presented on the floor. They seem to depict lying soldiers covered with tarpaulin. The edition of the "Times" newspaper provided me with the awareness of the situation which was characteristic of the Soviet Union in those times. Judging by the article, it was the outset of the war. The government was extremely worried. The attack was so sudden that no way out was developed. As the Soviet army was not ready, they predicted the war may last for a long time. But the words of the article instigated and encouraged the soldiers to take it seriously and fight together against the enemy with the sense of solidarity.

The following story is connected with a pilot who had to carry out his strategic assignment. But neither the pilot not the crew came back. As a result they were all included in the list of the missing. Only in 1987 was the plane found in the swamp surrounded with a thick forest.

The third hall presents the exposition connected with the Kiev defense. Here you will find documents, fragments of weapons and other belongings of the warriors. In the next two halls there is also a great deal of documentation, but it has to do with other people. The point is that the rooms are dedicated to the defense of Sevastopol, Odessa (lasted 250 days), Kerch (December 1941 - January 1945).

The seventh hall tells us about genocide. On the wall we can see depiction of the railway literally leading to nowhere. If to estimate the picture as a three-dimensional depiction, we can see a plaque in front of it with the following sign: "Entrance is forbidden". In the center of the hall stands an appliance for a death penalty. It produces a dreadful impression on our mind.

But the effect is felt even more in the eighth hall when you enter and the so called bone-processing machine strikes the eye. In the end they were ground and sent for bread production as flour.

The ninth hall impressed me most of all due to its vividness. Here you can observe the war road on the rails. People were sent to the front, but only weapons came back. The exhibits are devoted to the work in the rear reflecting the economic and political situation in Ukraine in those days.

Koretz: the historical museum

Having paid the visit to the Trinity convent in the Ukrainian town of Koretz situated in the Zhitomirski Region, I decided to go to the local History Museum. It is not big and consists of 3 halls. In the first one we can see the photos of primitive men who lived in the Pal eolith (pithecanthropus). Judging by their portraits, they were more alike to monkeys, rather than human faces. The following items contribute to the process of the perception of their lives and provide with more profound insight. These are pieces of pottery objects, a piece of a millstone, weapons of the Middle Ages, women's decorations (rings, earrings, laces), a cover of a soup vase, tiles, a core gun, a piece of lock, ceramic things. The other part of the hall is occupied with documents, photos and other personal items of the fighters participating in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945.

The second hall is fully dedicated to the Soviet Soldiers who we forced to combat in Afghanistan. Their rewards were given the honour to adorn the showcase.

The next hall awakened inspiration in me with pictures of local painters. Gorlov appealed to me due to his ability to reflect the beauty of nature. In one of his works he depicts sea waves hitting the shore. The blueness of the sea merging with the sky is hardly distinguishable by the horizon line. This work brings me back to my summer holidays in the Tuapsinski Region, refreshing my memories of that time spent in a complete bliss.

Another picture presents scenery with thick shrubbery covered with bright green creating different tints of lighter paint.

As for Chilchuk, he is also a talented connoisseur of his craft, specializing mostly on buildings. The image of the Koretzki Castle especially appealed to me even in spite of the fact that only the ruins of it were left. In the background of the greenery surrounding it this construction looks charming.


Pochaev is a nice Ukrainian town. The Pochaevskaya Lavra is meritoriously considered as its main attraction. At my leisure time I decided to walk around the town in search of a museum. But as both of existing here ones were closed, I had to restrict myself to stretching my legs in a nearby square and a park. In the public garden there are three memorials: to people died as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe, to those perished after genocide (1932-1933) and a man imparting the alley with importance.

In the park I managed to find only the monument to the poet Taras Shevchenko. The thing is that in the last century the Ukrainian government wanted to find out a person worth of erecting a monument. But only those candidates could be chosen who spoke the Ukrainian language and lived in this country. Therefore, only Lesya the Ukrainian (poetess) and Taras Shevchenko (poet) fell under this category. That is why these two figures decorate the streets here, as well as Stalin in Russia.

On the 6-th of January a truly nice outing took place. Firstly, we visited Svyataya Pochaevskaya mountain. Yet 300 years before the skit was founded, monks had began to tie up themselves in the neighbourhoods. The first temple which was erected here (1903) acquired its name after the Saint Serafim Sarovski. Later on a well was dug out here; its depth is 105 meters. 13 years ago it was consecrated in the name of Ampfilokhi.

What is strange, the weather in Ukraine does not look like winter this year. It resembles more early spring or late autumn instead. There is no snow at all and due to a great number of coniferous trees the nature here is beautiful and full of green colours.

Mostly thuyas grow here. Nearby you can also see box-trees. They come from the south and contribute to summer feelings re-experiencing owing to their evergreen leaves.

Then we moved on to the third Kremenezkaya mountain, where divine apparition occurred - Bozhya mountain. The thing is that it was a border region between the two tribes: volynyane and buzhane. Afterwords a transliteration took place and the mountain acquired its name - Bozhya (from buzhane).

Travelling around Ukrainian towns and cities appealed to me, but this trip has exceptionally stamped on my memory. Climbing it was really exciting with the thought "What is going to show up next?".

While going up we saw two chapels and one small cavity without an accessible entrance. In the whole I founded it inspiring to follow the way of the saints who went into history and were canonized later. Moreover, we visited the brotherhood cemetery, where people of the church were buried.

The skit of the saint godly Anna produced an unusual impression on me. The painted with blue shrine is mostly famous for its bathhouse, which is the biggest in the country. Due to the absence of snow the overgrowth of bramble was not covered. Having beheld it, I began to feel a real pity for not visiting this place in the summer.

The Lvov landmarks and sights

This Christmas turned out to be unusual for me. The point is that I spent it in the Ukrainian city of Lvov. But first I would like to supply you with some historical reference. Its architecture combines Soviet, Ukrainian and Polish traditions.

The territory of the present day Lvov used to be a part of Volynsko-Galitzkoye princedom. Those were the most affluent lands in the Kyivska Rus. Moreover, they were bypassed by the tatar-mongol herd in view of the fact that the Prince Danila Galitzki managed to arrange everything with Batyi. He did not even approach these lands heading towards Poland and Hungary, which were considered as the main opponents of Kyivska Rus.

As a city Lvov was founded in 1265. The mentioned above Prince Galitzki decided to grant it to his son as a present for marriage. So, the city was afterwards named after him (Lev-Lvov).

In 1354 the Polish King Casimir gave it so called Magdeburg right. The well-being of the city increased and it was allowed to keep its stores in Poland.

Multiculture has left its trace not only on the architecture, but on the traditions and every-day life as well. Italians founded a post-office here, Germans - pharmaceutical production. The territory of the present Lvov used to be a part of Poland, Rheczpospolita, Dual Monarchy. In the end, after World War the second it went to the Soviet Union again.

In 1564 a strong fire broke out. Therefore, the major part of buildings was burnt to the ground. Following this event, a command was adopted to rebuild the city in stone. The city center can boast its European constructions till the present day, as they live on.

There is only one cathedral on the territory of Lvov dedicated to the Saint George. It was decided by the authorities to name it after the Assumption of Our Lady, because the church with the same name had already existed by that time. Nevertheless, the Cathedral bears the first mentioned appellation.

Following World War the Second, all the Poles and Germans were expelled from Lvov - primarily Ukrainians and Russians stayed. After this policy the population became scant. To balance it Ukrainians from the neighbourhoods were settled here.

Nowadays 12% of the population in the city are Russians. Each fifth uses the Russian language in everyday life and even at home. However, the major part uses Ukrainian with some borrowings from the Polish language, which makes up an original dialect.

Meanwhile, the time has come to describe our walk around the city. We began from the Christmas fair, which is peculiar in its own way. Not only did we manage to buy souvenirs, but also to attend an outdoor concert in front of the New Year tree. In a few steps from here the Lvov Opera Theater is situated. It can house 1000 people and ranges among the most famous opera houses in the world. However, the place of its erection was chosen not successfully in view of the fact that the Plotva River flowed here. In the connection with the theater construction the river was put into a tube. Even despite this precaution, the building went down by 2 meters. To settle everything and bring it in order, a lifting jack was applied not to mention the time and money spent. The architect, who made these mistakes, had passed away by that time. After going around it, we found ourselves on the intersection between Krakovskaya and Lesya Ukrainka's streets. On one of the side streets we saw the figures of the people who invented a kerosene lamp. One iron figure was sitting at a table in front of the building outside, the other stood out of the window. For me that was a great surprise as I had never seen such unusual monuments. Later on we visited the so called Armenian quarter where the young Benedictions' cloister was situated. The fact is that the Armenians were not among the favourites in the region. That is why they lived in the houses with extremely thick walls (as some kind of protection).

Apart from that we visited a number of Greek-Catholic temples. The Dominikanski Cathedral not far from the monument to Typer the First used to be acting as well. But now a museum is placed here. That was our last stop before we turned around and went along Byrminskaya Street to a caf?.

I have dreamt of going abroad for a long time - and now I can imagine visiting Poland, the EU member while staying in Ukraine: truly a wonderful thing!

Comeback to Kiev: Hydropark, zoo and Botanical garden

The last day of my 6-days' excursion I spent in Kiev. It was a real pleasure to feel free from the group and go around on my own. We arrived at the railway station at 3 30 and were forced to wait for a train. To spend my time usefully, I worked out a plan for the whole day. When it was still dark outdoors, I headed for Hydropark. At first I could move only along illuminated paths. At last I reached the Dnepr Channel. It was an early dawn, but with the course of time it was getting lighter. Meanwhile, I concentrated my eyesight on the water. What was curious, not only the light posts, but also cars moving along the highway on the bridge were reflected on its glassy waters. At first I did not even understand it correctly thinking that were fish splashing in the waters. However, when I took a closer look at it, then at the highway, I had to confess my mistake. At the same time, the water was illuminated from inside.

I did not even notice tents and other constructions I happened to pass by, as in the focus of my attention was nature. A little bit earlier when it was darker the black colour predominated. But now green grass took the leadership - as odd as it could seem in winter. Such a pity that it was not summer at that moment - the sandy beaches here were luxurious, which lured you to dive and swim. Nevertheless, the weather did not allow me to do that. I tried the water with my hand and understood it was ice-cold. Only one glacier was noticed in the water, which seemed to have lost its way.

When the sun came up, I headed for the Kiev Zoo. It is situated just opposite the square dedicated to the students of the Politekhnicheski University who struggled for the victory in the Great Patriotic war.

At first I thought the territory of the zoo was small and I could cover it in half an hour but actually it was not so. Having approached a pond, I saw wild ducks and geese swimming. Later on I noticed a fluffy lama which can cover a distance of 24 kilometers with a burden of from 26 up to 49 kilograms. Her muzzle was so nice that I could not help observing it for some time.

The horse of Prezhevalski, two species of lynx, a brown bear, a skunk, a marten were among the living exhibits.

I was mostly impressed by big animals such as an Asian elephant. Unfortunately, their population is continuing to decrease due to smuggling.

We can dab a giraffe a drone for its tendency to spent the major time eating - 65%. We usually refer to a lion as a King of animals, which is not a coincidence. Lying on the board right in the middle of its pen it looks grand and imposing.

Tigers also stand out due to their wonderful striped coloration. According to my supposition, it indicates that no one can approach a tiger. Otherwise, death is inevitable. I should say it is some kind of intimidation.

Camels are very useful as load transportation. Their performance is effective in view of the fact that they are imparted with the ability to accumulate food for several hours.

Monkeys are another story. They exceed each species of animals in the ability to make people laugh due to their funny streaks. Several stocks from the order of primates are presented in the sanctuary. Horillas and chimpanzees are considered as the closest relatives of humans. Macaques are one of the most mischievous monkeys. They seem to be always full of energy running around tree branches.

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